The View from the Choir Director’s Podium
My name is Jennifer, and I work as the Development Assistant here at the Bethlehem Center. Years ago I taught choir and music classes in the public school system so I was excited to be asked to also serve as the music teacher and choir director for the Read to Lead Academy.
We launched our music classes in September for grades K-5 and held auditions for choir for grades K-8. The kids and I sang and danced our way through some upbeat Praise & Worship songs, and the 12 member choir worked on learning some more vocally challenging pieces.
The students seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I knew I didn’t have their full attention. The Christmas season was approaching, and I made it my mission to find some songs that would be irresistible. The songs had to be energetic and engaging. The first week of November when I introduced “Hip Hop Reindeer” and “Jingle Jive” the children immediately responded to the peppy holiday music.
We wiggled and giggled and jammed and jingled. The shy and reluctant singers found themselves drawn into the festive sounds of the music tracks. They laughed at their silly teacher as I danced right along with them.
While preparing for our performance at the Tri-Octaves Christmas Concert at Christ UMC, the students enjoyed the holiday songs so much that I had more and more requests from them asking, “Can I please join the choir, Miss Jennifer?” Previously hesitant or distracted singers were suddenly excited for our Thursday sessions and found joy in being part of a “team”.
By the time the concert weekend arrived, we had 28 choir members! We performed 4 songs, including a lovely old carol titled “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow”, accompanied on piano by our very own Miss Shari from the Marketing Department. The boys’ trio on the second verse sounded simply angelic. The choir’s favorite number was the gospel song “Christmas Jubilation”. The kids sang with excitement, and the addition of a girls’ trio upped the cute factor considerably. As I looked at these precious children, ranging from 1st grade through 7th grade, I could not have been more proud. They looked adorable in their Santa hats, but their shining faces really told the story. Their joy-filled music still rings in my ears!
Jennifer joined the staff at the Bethlehem Center in February 2017 as a Read to Lead teacher. In August, she transitioned into the Development Department as the Development and Projects Assistant. Jennifer also serves as the Praise & Worship Leader at Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene, where her husband, Eric, serves as Senior Pastor. They have 3 wonderful children and too many pets.